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Search suspended for 4 boaters lost off New Jersey coast

  • Story Highlights
  • Fishing boat with seven people aboard sank early Tuesday off Cape May
  • Three people aboard found Tuesday, two died
  • Cause of sinking being investigated
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(CNN) -- The Coast Guard suspended its search Wednesday night for four boaters who disappeared after a fishing boat sank off the New Jersey coast on Tuesday.

The 37-hour search ended shortly before 8 p.m.

The Coast Guard cutter Dependable searched through the night Tuesday, the Coast Guard said. In addition, air crews searched the area early Wednesday.

Two people died after the Lady Mary, a 71-foot fishing boat with seven people aboard, sank early Tuesday about 65 miles southeast of Cape May, at the southern tip of New Jersey, the Coast Guard said. Three people were recovered initially -- one of whom was dead, and a second person died hours later, Coast Guard Petty Officer Chris McLaughlin said Tuesday.

The two fatalities were identified as Royal Smith Jr. and Timothy Smith, according to the Coast Guard statement. The third person, identified as Jose Luis Ariese, was treated and released from a local hospital.

Those still missing were identified as Frank Reyes, Frankie Credle, William Torres and Tarzan Smith, according to the Coast Guard.

"Coast Guard helicopters, planes and cutters from North Carolina and New Jersey have completed multiple searches over 225 square miles in the past 24 hours," said Rear Adm. Fred M. Rosa, Fifth Coast Guard District commander.

"The weather on scene has made search conditions difficult and, particularly when added to the cold water temperatures, has made survival more daunting. Regardless, the skilled men and women of the Coast Guard will continue to search, but time and environmental conditions are against us," Rosa said.

The National Transportation Safety Board said Wednesday it was sending a team to investigate the incident.

The Coast Guard recovered the Lady Mary's life raft and its emergency radio beacon from the scene Tuesday. It was contacted by the fishing vessel Kathryn Marie at 4 p.m. Tuesday, which said it had heard a mayday call at about 5 a.m.

It was not immediately clear what caused the boat to sink.

Cape May is about 40 miles southwest of Atlantic City, New Jersey.

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